Sharing the Word on Agriculture

Mike Rouillard
District V Promotion & Education Committee Member

As the 2015 fair season comes to an end, I would like to review all the ways that the county fair as well as our great Minnesota State Fair are able to share agriculture's story as well as entertain consumers on the importance of agriculture.

Our county Farm Bureau has partnered with our county fair to share agriculture's story with the public. Granted, we are a metro county so the agriculture to non-agriculture ratio weights heavy on the non-agriculture side. But we see the need even in rural communities. Just because you were raised on a farm doesn't mean you understand all aspects of agriculture. We can always provide different opportunities and ways for everyone to learn more about what goes into raising and growing our food, fiber and renewable fuel. By offering these opportunities in our rural communities, we increase our ability to speak knowledgeably on more areas of agriculture.

Whether it's 4-H livestock projects, the FFA barnyard or the food concessionaires, they all have a chance to share their farm story with fair goers.

Have you ever thought about partnering with the food concessionaires to show what agriculture products go into their offerings? One idea would be planted pots of wheat to represent the flour that goes into those hot dog buns or pots of corn plants by the corn dog booth. It would not be the best to have animals near the food concession area, but posters could indicate the areas used, such as pork chops, for their menu offerings.

At times, it may seem that the easiest method is through entertainment. Just sneak that agriculture education in on the side, without them being aware. We have seen things like: county Miracle of Birth Centers, crop production areas, interaction amongst exhibitors and fair goers and games.

Farm Bureau's scavenger hunt works well for interaction among the exhibitors and fair goers, hopefully this triggers more conversations. Avoid holding the scavenger hunt during show time because it's prep time in the barns. Ag Bingo has been another favorite at our fair. Using a farmer/rancher as the caller, they can throw in some local facts at the same time. Prizes may be ride tickets, books, coupons for ice cream treats or whatever fits at your fair.

Partnering with other local venues has proven to be beneficial for all involved. It creates an opportunity to interact with the public on all aspects of agriculture and the opportunity to share that farmers care about our environment, our animals, our products and the consumer's safety and consumption.

I have listed just a few of the ideas that we have seen over the past few years at fairs. It's a continuing project each year for our county. Reach out to new partners for at least a day, just to see where it grows from there. I encourage you to take these ideas, create your own ideas and start planning today for the 2016 fair season.